In-depth reviews

Alfa Romeo Giulia review – compact executive saloon tackles the BMW 3-series

In such a competitive marketplace, the Giulia holds its own and represents Alfa’s best effort in years

Evo rating
from £40,829
  • Keen engines, enjoyable handling
  • Firm low-speed ride, option packs soon add up

There has been much said about the Alfa Romeo Giulia, but whereas most of the attention has been levelled at the M3-rivalling Quadifoglio, the standard Giulia models are if anything even more important, as these are the cars that need to appeal to a far wider audience.

Now available solely with a 2-litre turbo four-cylinder in two states of tune alongside the V6 Quadrifoglio, the Alfa Romeo Giulia remains a strong compact executive offering, adding flare to a market previously dominated by the big German manufacturers and occasionally infiltrated by Jaguar and the Japanese pair, Lexus and Infiniti.

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As compact executive rivals are stronger than ever, Alfa Romeo could no longer afford to merely get by with recycled platforms and hand-me-down engines. The Giulia's platform is all-new (and shared with the Stelvio SUV), its engines freshly developed for this car, and it sends its power, like the majority of cars in this class, to the rear wheels.

Fittingly, Alfa Romeo's effort paid off - and whether Quadrifoglio or not, this is one of the best cars the company has produced in a very long time. While it lacks polish in places, its talented chassis, strong engines, light weight and improved quality all make this a very competitive offering.

Alfa Romeo Giulia in detail

  • > Performance and 0-62mph time - Performance figures fall behind its German counterparts, with a simplified lineup leaving gaps in the range.
  • > Engine and gearbox - Alfa Romeo offers three engine choices including the hot-rod QV. Ordinary Giulias are four-cylinder motivated with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol in two states of tune, with the QV range-topper boasting a 2.9-litre V6
  • > Ride and Handling - The Giulia's rear drive chassis make is a far more dynamically tempting proposition. No longer the pretty but slightly inept executive option, Alfa Romeo is giving BMW and Jaguar a run as the new dynamic champion.
  • > MPG and running costs - Though the diesel model has now been lifted from the range, both the entry-level Sprint and mid-range Veloce offer respectable fuel economy.
  • > Interior and tech - Despite taking inspiration from the best German systems, the Giulia's interior tech does fall short of the best in class.
  • > Design - One of the rather more limited talents of the old 159, the Giulia is perhaps not as pretty or well detailed as its predecessor, but the look is sleek and crucially different to the German aristocracy.

Prices, specs and rivals 

Now priced from £40,829, the Giulia is pitched at the premium offerings in the compact executive segment, which is dominated by German brands. The Giulia range is divided into three trim levels, bookended by the base Sprint and Estrema models.

Standard kit on the entry-level model comprises a multifunctional steering-wheel, automatic emergency braking and rear parking sensors, with a 6.5-inch screen mounted on the centre console for the infotainment system. The base trim is exclusively powered by a 197bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

The middling Veloce starts at £46,199, with the price bump justified through the addition of an extra 79bhp (for a 276bhp total), chassis tweaks and a limited-slip differential. There's more kit as standard too, with uprated Bi-Xenon headlights, an enlarged infotainment display and 19-inch wheels setting it apart from the base car.

The Estrema model is style-centric with exterior touches lending a sportier aesthetic, with a number of tweaks taking inspiration from the range-topping Quadrifoglio. Alfa Romeo's SDC (Synaptic Dynamic Control) suspension is also unique to the Estrema, as are Alcantara sports seats, interior carbon fibre trim and an uprated Harmon Kardon sound system.

Though the lineup has been simplified in recent years, the Giulia models offered largely reflect the variety of derivatives offered by the Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class. There is a gap though between the Estrema and Giulia Quadrifoglio that the brands above have managed to fill with the S4, 340i and C43, respectively. Whereas the German trio are available in multiple bodystyles such as fastback or estate, the Giulia is saloon only.

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